The mood was exuberant as the Palexpo Convention Center in Geneva opened on Tuesday for two days of press previews that served up a generous helping of important new production models as well as some intriguing design studies.
From the look of things at the 84th Geneva Motor Show, happy days are here again for automakers. It is almost as if six years of recession, bankruptcies, bailouts, layoffs, plant closings and currency gyrations had never happened.
Still, there may be danger lurking in the industry’s rearview mirrors—the tension in Ukraine and its possible effect on the large Russian market, to cite just one possible snag.
Were the world’s automakers just whistling past the graveyard?
The annual Geneva salon—the show opened to the public on Thursday and continues through March 16—is not always a true measure of the industry’s overall health, because it is generally a showcase for the most luxurious, most expensive and most outlandish creations.
This year’s show, in particular, seemed to offer a bountiful crop of opulent models, including the McLaren 650S coupe and convertible, the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, a refined Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II and more powerful Aston Martins, Audis, Bentleys and Porsches, to name but a few.
In the penthouse, in terms of price, was the Koenigsegg One:1; the Swedish tuner company says it will make only six of the 1,340-horsepower beasts. It expects to sell out despite a price of nearly $5 million.
Is Geneva’s Class of 2014 a record-setting piggybank-breaker? Perhaps, but that would be nearly impossible to calculate. There is, however, no shortage of six- and seven-figure cars on hand.
But real-world buyers were not ignored.
For example, Jeep unveiled its new Renegade sub-compact sport utility. The company projects that it could sell 250,000 of the cute utes in its first year. If that happens, total worldwide Jeep sales could top one million, a level that was once unthinkable.
The Renegade, an essential component of Fiat Chrysler’s strategy to expand the Jeep brand globally, is being promoted as “designed in America and built in Italy.” It will share a plant and a platform with the Fiat 500X.
Gasoline and diesel engines for the vehicles will be made in the United States, Italy and Brazil. Both the Jeep and Fiat models will be available with a 9-speed automatic transmission, and the Jeep will have a manual shift option as well. The Renegade will come only with 4-wheel-drive, and a Trailhawk “trail rated” version will